KELLY KUO                                                                                                                                          RETURN TO HOME PAGE


KELLY KUO                                                       Biography 2010-2011


An accomplished young conductor and pianist, Kelly Kuo has had tremendous success working with both singers and instrumentalists in the United States and abroad in an astonishingly broad spectrum of repertoire including nearly 50 operas spanning the 17th through 21st centuries.. He was granted the 2009 Solti Foundation/U.S. Career Assistance Award for young conductors and his most recent engagements, La traviata for Kentucky Opera starring Elizabeth Futral garnered critical acclaim: Conductor Kelly Kuo led the Louisville Orchestra Friday with considerable verve, and no shortage of idiomatic delicacy, followed by Porgy and Bess in Las Palmas and Hansel and Gretel for Lyric Opera San Diego.  Upcoming engagements include Rhapsody in Blue the Cincinnati Chamber Orchestra and cover conductor for Les Contes d’Hoffmann at Santa Fe Opera.

Currently Assistant Conductor of the Cincinnati Chamber Orchestra, Kelly Kuo made conducting debuts last season with the Lyric Opera of Chicago (Porgy and Bess) and Madison Opera (Coś fan tutte conducted from the harpsichord), returned to Lyric Opera San Diego to lead Trial by Jury and the world premiere of Rumpelstiltskin by Nicholas Reveles and conducts numerous performances of Porgy and Bess at the Hamburg Staatsoper.

Highlights of recent seasons include his European conducting debut leading multiple performances of Porgy and Bess in Munich, conducting debuts at Eugene Opera (Madama Butterfly) Opera Pacific (La traviata), Tulsa Opera (The Little Prince), Lyric Opera San Diego (Iolanthe), Pro Cantus Lyric Opera (La bohème) and gala concerts for Wichita Grand Opera. In addition, Mr. Kuo was Music Director of the Xavier University Chamber Orchestra and he led Il barbiere di Siviglia, Coś fan tutte and Rimsky Korsakov’s Mozart and Salieri for Rising Star Opera Theater in Indiana. Mr. Kuo also served as cover conductor for Los Angeles Opera’s productions of Porgy and Bess and A Little Night Music (starring Victor Garber and Zoe Caldwell) as well as a new production of Candide at the Festival Euro Mediterraneo in Italy. During his five year tenure at Opera Pacific, he conducted a workshop of David DiChiera’s opera Cyrano de Bergerac and was Assistant Conductor and cover conductor for over twenty productions in addition to serving as Artistic Administrator.

Kelly Kuo is a versatile musician who is equally at home with symphonic and chamber music as he is with the operatic repertoire. In addition to having served as repetiteur for companies such as Cincinnati Opera, Glimmerglass Opera, Houston Grand Opera, Kentucky Opera, Los Angeles Opera, Madison Opera, Opera Cleveland and Seattle Opera, Mr. Kuo has appeared as a concert pianist throughout the United States performing over 75 works from the chamber music repertoire with members of prominent American orchestras and he has over a dozen concerto performances to his credit. As an orchestral keyboardist he has performed with the Houston Symphony, Cincinnati Symphony, Pacific Symphony, Madison Symphony and Eugene Symphony. Praised in The Oregonian as an “admirably self-possessed musician with a future,” he is becoming a favorite collaborator for emerging young singers and has recently accompanied rising American soprano Anna Christy in recital in Los Angeles and Omaha. Mr. Kuo also regularly plays continuo for the operas of Mozart and Rossini.

A champion of contemporary music, Kelly Kuo has participated in the world premieres of works by Richard Danielpour, Carlisle Floyd and Jake Heggie.  His chamber music repertoire includes pieces by living composers such as William Bolcom, Ned Rorem, Chen Yi, Pierre Boulez, and George Crumb. In addition, Mr. Kuo has edited the full score and piano-vocal score for Jake Heggie’s Dead Man Walking and The End of the Affair and can be heard on the premiere recording of Daniel Catán’s opera La hija de Rappaccini .

Of Taiwanese heritage, American-born Kelly Kuo was raised in Hermiston, Oregon. He began his musical studies on the violin at the age of five, made his debut as a piano soloist with the Walla Walla Symphony five years later, and later trained as a clarinetist.  Mr. Kuo studied piano with Horowitz pupil Dean Kramer at the University of Oregon earning a Bachelor of Arts, majoring in both music and Chinese. He received his Master of Music in Piano from the Manhattan School of Music where his teachers included Byron Janis and Warren Jones. Mr. Kuo is an alumnus of the Houston Grand Opera Studio, where he studied vocal coaching as well as conducting with Larry Rachleff. 



La Traviata – Kentucky Opera  

“Conductor Kelly Kuo led the Louisville Orchestra Friday with considerable verve, and no shortage of idiomatic delicacy. Occupying the newly expanded Brown pit, members of the brass and woodwind sections had to sit in the rear on a lower level than the strings, following Kuo via television monitors when they couldn't actually see him. It could not have been an easy adjustment, but they played like the professionals they are, and from my seat just about dead center downstairs, the sound was balanced and quite full.”

Hansel and Gretel – Lyric Opera San Diego

“Kelly Kuo conducted the LOSD Orchestra, keeping the show moving at a good pace while also managing not to drown out his singers on the stage”AC
Associated – San Diego, November 14, 2009 

“Humperdinck’s orchestration is lush. He was a colleague of Richard Wagner’s and it shows throughout the opera, and in certain places one hears echoes of Wagner’s Dutchman, Fafner and the Wood Sprite. Under the baton of Kelly Kuo, the well-rehearsed 29-member orchestra handles the music quite well.”
SD Theatre Scene, November 19, 2009

“Wagner fans with motif memory hear allusions to Faffner and the Flying Dutchman and take pleasure in Humperdinck’s lush orchestrations, remarkably played by the Lyric Opera orchestra under the baton of Kelly Kuo.”
San Diego News Network, La Jolla Village News

Coś fan tutte – Madison Opera 

Conducting the score…from the harpsichord, another Madison newcomer, Kelly Kuo, ran a tight ship.  And I loved his clever keyboard noodlings into which he slipped at least two quotations from other Mozart scores -- the "Rondo alla turca" and the Don Giovanni Serenade.
The Daily Page, March 16, 2009

“Madison Opera’s decadent production of Mozart’s “Cosi Fan Tutte” lights up the Capitol Theater this weekend with a talented ensemble cast and fine orchestra conducted by Kelly Kuo. Kuo’s flowing; smooth conducting style fits the piece well.”
Wisconsin State Journal, March 14, 2009

Rumpelstiltskin/Trial by Jury – Lyric Opera San Diego 

“Kelly Kuo does yeoman's duty in the orchestra pit.”
 North County Times, February 20, 2009

Madama Butterfly – Eugene Opera   

Friday evening, Eugene Opera proved that when presented with ravishing singing and luminous orchestral playing, “Butterfly” remains powerful, even irresistible, theater…The conductor Kelly Kuo drew lush and expressive playing from this group. Rarely have I heard this orchestra in such good form. 
The Register Guard, March 3, 2008

Iolanthe – Lyric Opera San Diego

“Conductor Kelly Kuo also deserves raves. He doesn’t try to make Iolanthe into another Pinafore; instead, he savors the score’s unusual, almost Mozartean delicacy and the contrapuntal effects between the two choruses which Sullivan wrote into his score.”
 Zenger’s Newsmagazine, March 24, 2007

The top-notch orchestra is expertly led by conductor Kelly Kuo.”
 North County Times, March 29, 2007

 “The solos, duets and ensemble numbers were persuasively presented Sunday and received able support from the 30-member pit orchestra, led by guest conductor Kelly Kuo in his first company engagement. Particularly effective was the overture's sprightly interplay of winds and strings, which recalled Mendelssohn's music.”
San Diego Union-Tribune, March 27, 2007

“The show also marked the Lyric Opera debut of Opera Pacific’s Kelly Kuo, who led the orchestra in a wholly satisfying, if not quite rousing performance.”, March 27, 2007

El amor brujo – Cincinnati Chamber Orchestra

CCO assistant conductor Kelly Kuo led a finely-tuned performance of “El amor brujo,” rich in drama and emotion, with pealing trumpets, colorful winds and lovely solo work by principal cellist Patrick Binford and assistant concertmaster Sujean Kim.
Music in Cincinnati, June 8, 2009

Opera Under the Stars – Opera Pacific

“Assistant conductor Kelly Kuo took over for the ‘Carmen’ selections and showed a firm hand and rhythmic liveliness.”
The Orange County Register, June 28, 2004